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Nobel Prize Concert 2009: Martha Argerich/Yuri Temirkanov (2010)

Nobel Prize Concert 2009: Martha Argerich/Yuri Temirkanov (2010)

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Nobel Prize Concert 2009: Martha Argerich/Yuri Temirkanov (2010)
Classical | MPEG-2 Video | NTSC 16:9 (720x480) | 5404 kb/s | 29,97 fps | Sub: English, German, French | 80mins | 5.6 GB
English | Dolby Digital | 48000 Hz | AC3, 2 ch, 448 kb/s + DTS, 6 ch, 1510 kb/s | RAR 3% Rec

Nobel Prize Concert 2009: Martha Argerich/Yuri Temirkanov (2010)

As part of the official Nobel Week, the world's most renowned artists gather each year to pay tribute to the Nobel Laureates. An event of world class stature and performances of highest international standard, members of the Swedish Royal Family as well as guests of the Nobel Foundation attend the highly acclaimed event, which gathers internationally renowned artists and conductors each year. A very special highlight was this year's soloist Martha Argerich, a very charismatic and brilliant pianist, performing Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major under Yuri Temirkanov leading the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. The program also includes Prokofiev's Suite from Romeo and Juliet.

Review : Each year a concert is given in Stockholm to mark the distribution of Nobel prizes. The programme for 2009 was recorded live and consists of popular Russian and French music which would not have taxed the grey cells of the assembled brains or the Swedish royalty in attendance. Under the batonless and diminutive figure of Yuri Temirkanov, the music speeds along, belying his three score and ten years. Indeed his podium manner is something of a distraction, his technique more like preparing wallpaper with paste on a plank between ladders if you follow my description. The results, however, are electrifying. The Swedish players - and probably a host of others in the many orchestras with which he is associated - clearly love him. He has that whimsical smile playing around his lips which one associates with Rozhdesventsky, but woe betide anyone who needs a downbeat; all they’ll see is a sideswipe. The playing is fabulous from all departments, cor anglais, flute, harp, horn, trumpet and trombone in the Ravel; all those plus a host more in the Prokofiev.

Martha Argerich, also a septuagenarian in a year’s time, is hugely impressive in a magnificently clear and clean account of the concerto, followed by a wonderfully understated rendition of a Chopin mazurka as an encore. The Prokofiev ballet music burns with passion and zips along at a furious pace in anything marked Allegro or faster, while the Shostakovich gets the programme underway in a blaze of brass and in true festive fashion.

Direction is traditional with cameras zooming in predictably on solo instrumentalists. Temirkanov’s antics make him hugely photogenic, while Argerich’s fingers, if not her hair-do, are a revelation. As a musician she cuts a modest, humble figure, which she is.

- Attendees of the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm are treated to a gala concert by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. A Euroarts DVD of the 2008 event, led by John Eliot Gardiner, was reviewed in Fanfare 33:2. That DVD included bonus material in the form of a conversation with Gardiner and a number of Nobel Laureates. The current disc, which presents the 2009 concert, includes no extras and thus offers rather short playing time for a DVD. It is more than made up for, however, by the excellence of the program, performances, and videography, compared to the 2008 production.

Yuri Temirkanov opens the concert with a rousing reading of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, a rip-roaring piece that elicits a smile from Sweden’s lovely Crown Princess and seems to stir the otherwise rather staid Stockholm spectators. Temirkanov is not a very demonstrative conductor. He leads without a baton, doesn’t flail about on the podium, and displays a fairly limited repertoire of nearly inscrutable facial expressions; yet, however he does it, he really seems to energize the players, and they seem genuinely to like him.

Next up is the Ravel concerto with Martha Argerich, a pianist I love so dearly I’d happily listen to her playing Chopsticks. Her facial expressions are anything but inscrutable. She loves the piano, she loves Ravel, and she is obviously enjoying herself immensely in this performance. There is a rare rapport between her, Temirkanov, and the orchestra in this very tricky score. Once, midway through the gorgeous Adagio assai movement, there is a moment where the piano and the orchestra are the slightest bit out of sync. You wouldn’t even notice it but for Argerich’s parentally stern glance at the offending players, upon which matters are instantly set aright.

The audience responds with a thunderous ovation at the end and won’t let her go without an encore. Argerich graciously obliges with a Chopin mazurka.

The conclusion of the program strikes me as just a bit odd. Temirkanov presents the complete Suite No. 2 from Prokoviev’s Romeo and Juliet, which ends with the climactic “Romeo at Juliet’s Grave,” and frankly contains the best music from the ballet; and then rather anticlimactically follows it with three movements from the Suite No. 1. Perhaps at the actual concert, this was offered as an encore. In any case, the performance is top-notch, with the orchestra responding to Temirkanov’s peculiar alchemy as if mesmerized by him.

The video portion of the disc is an improvement over similar filmed concerts I’ve seen. Timely focus is maintained on the orchestra’s soloists who are actually playing solo at that moment, and shots are sustained long enough that one doesn’t experience that vertiginous feeling of constant panning. This is very well done, and strongly recommended.


1. Festive Overture in A, Op. 96 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor: Yuri Temirkanov
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1954

2. Concerto for Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer: Martha Argerich (Piano)
Conductor: Yuri Temirkanov
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1929-1931; France

3. Mazurkas (4) for Piano, B 89/Op. 24: no 2 in C major by Frйdйric Chopin
Performer: Martha Argerich (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1834-1835; Paris, France

4. Romeo and Juliet: Suite(s) by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor: Yuri Temirkanov
Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century


The album code is : ODI176040

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